The Bible doesn’t specify how old Esther was when she became queen, but it does say she was a beautiful young virgin, and in Bible times most Jewish girls got married between 12-14, so she was most likely a young teenager.
The Biblical account of Esther is a truly breathtaking love story, and while there is romance involved, it’s God’s love for His people and His sovereign hand over the affairs of men that steal the show!
Let’s take a closer look at Esther and how God used her (despite her young age) to change history and save millions of Jews!
Who Was Esther?
Mordecai was a respectable and upright Jewish man who served God. It’s believed by many that Mordecai actually wrote the book of Esther himself, but it’s not clear. He had been carried away as a captive from Jerusalem when the Babylonians conquered the Jews (Esth 2:6). There, he brought Esther, who was his orphaned cousin, into his home and raised her as his own daughter. She was young and beautiful (Esth 2:7).
When Did Esther Become Queen?
King Xerxes, the Persian king hosted a banquet around 483 BC and was humiliated by his wife, Queen Vashti, when she refused to make an appearance to show off her beauty. As a result, he divorced her (Esth 1:19) and was advised to find a new wife (Esth 2:4).
Young virgins were gathered across the land and brought into the palace to “audition” for this coveted title. Among them was young Esther (Esth 2:8). She was likely around the age of 12-14, the age when most Jewish girls were married during Bible times.
It wasn’t in Esther’s plan to enter the harem (a group of wives or concubines) of a Persian King. She most likely had hoped to quietly marry a good Jewish man and raise a family that served Yahweh (the One True God) as a respectful wife.
But Esther trusted God. She didn’t rebel against this strange situation, instead, she gained the respect of the head of the harem, the chief eunuch, Hegai (Esth 2:9). She completed the beauty rituals and waited at least 12 months to meet the king (Esth 2:12).
When it was her turn to meet the king, she took special care to honor his preferences—displaying a spirit of humility and submission, unlike the previous queen (Esth 2:15). The King was taken with her and chose her for his queen. Esther was most likely between 13-15 years old at this point.
Esther 2:17 (ESV) the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
If you're interested in learning more about the life of Queen Esther – and what the incredible story could mean for what God is up to in your life – this is a fantastic resource from Charles Swindoll.
How Did God Use Esther to Save the Jews?
When Esther was queen, she found out that the king’s chief officer, Haman, plotted to destroy all the Jews. He was angry that Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, refused to bow down to him. Mordecai encouraged Esther to not waste the opportunity she had of being close to the king. Through an incredible act of bravery, that put her own life at risk, Esther was able to intercede for the Jews.
Esther understood that it was God’s will that brought her to the Persian palace all along. She trusted in God’s perfect wisdom. He knows all things and works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28).
Esther 4:14 (ESV) “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
There are questions around what happened to Esther after Xerxes died, but regardless, we know that her story is a beautiful picture of God’s providence.
What Does the Account of Esther Mean For Us?
God is sovereign over all the details of His children’s lives. We can have confidence in His plans for us even when we don’t understand or like what’s happening. God used Esther, who was barely more than a child, a young woman who was expected to be “seen and not heard,” to save the Jewish nation!
He uses the weak and He promises to be their strength. Can anything compare to the goodness of God?
2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.